L-R Sarah McCormack and Rebecca Hoelting.
Sarah McCormack and Rebecca Hoelting, having been “friends and colleagues a long time,” stayed in touch since working together early in their careers and have opened a firm in Midtown. (John Disney/Daily Report)

Family lawyers Rebecca Hoelting and Sarah McCormack are acting on a long-held ambition and opening their own firm, Hoelting & McCormack, on Aug. 1.

Hoelting has worked at Decatur general practice boutique McCurdy & Candler, where she is a partner, for almost a decade. McCormack has worked for family law firm Kessler & Solomiany for almost 11 years, where she was the first female partner.

“It’s an opportunity to create a firm that’s our own, with our philosophy,” Hoelting said. She added that she wanted to have a firm focused exclusively on family law, rather than a general practice firm. “We’ve been friends and colleagues a long time. Now I will have a partner down the hall who is doing what I’m doing and whom I trust implicitly.”

She and McCormack met early in their careers at McKenna Long & Aldridge (then Long Aldridge & Norman), where they practiced litigation and family law, and they have stayed in touch. Both live in Virginia-Highland, and McCormack said they go for evening walks in the neighborhood and talk about cases after their children are in bed. “We’ve gotten caught in the rain at least one time,” McCormack said.

Hoelting, 44, said that when McCurdy & Candler’s lease came up for renewal, she decided to take the plunge and start her own firm. “I’m really grateful for what I’ve come from and what I’ve learned. It’s a good time for me to make a change,” she said.

McCormack, 39, said it was her ambition to have her own firm before she was 40. It was serendipitous, she said, that Hoelting was looking to start her own firm at the same time. “The people I’ve worked with have been great and I’ve learned a lot. I thought it would be fun to take ownership of something.”

Paralegal Cristy Sims, who has worked with Hoelting since they were both at McKenna Long, is joining them at Hoelting & McCormack.

Hoelting volunteers for the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and is a former president of AVLF’s board. She is on the board of Jewish Family and Career Services and is involved in its Shalom Bayit program, which helps people who’ve experienced domestic violence.

She said her work for AVLF as a guardian ad litem, representing the best interests of the children in a contested divorce, prompted her to become a collaborative divorce practitioner. “It became interesting to me after seeing what those custody disputes can do to children over time,” she said. Collaborative divorce is a team-based approach to a divorce case where the lawyers and other professionals work together to help the divorcing spouses reach resolution. Hoelting said they don’t file anything with the court until they’ve arrived at an agreement. If the spouses are not able to reach accord on the divorce terms, they must engage new lawyers to proceed with the case.

McCormack volunteers for the family law section of the State Bar of Georgia, presenting an update on Georgia case law for family law practitioners at its annual Family Law Institute.

Hoelting & McCormack’s new office is at Two Midtown Plaza, on 17th Street between Peachtree and West Peachtree streets.

Hoelting was previously working in Decatur, while McCormack was downtown. They said they chose Midtown because it was centrally located for clients, who are all over the metro area — from Dunwoody to Johns Creek to Decatur — and it’s easy to get to most metro courthouses from there. Plus, it’s only a 10-minute commute from their homes in Virginia-Highland.

Banking lawyer David Adams has joined Stites & Harbison as a partner from Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. Adams represents local and regional financial institutions and documents credit facilities.

Carlock, Copeland & Stair has made partner Wayne “Dan” McGrew III the chairman of its executive committee — a new position that is part of the firm’s effort to establish “new and improved strategic and project management processes to increase efficiency and productivity,” according to an announcement. R. Michael Ethridge from Carlock Copeland’s Charleston office also joined the executive committee. The other members are Joe Kingma, David Root, Greg Wheeler, who is the firm’s managing partner, and its executive director, Brian Gedeon.

DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James received the “My Brother’s Keepers” Award from the National Bar Association on July 26 at its national convention in Atlanta. The NBA, which is the nation’s oldest and largest African-American bar association, annually recognizes an individual working to narrow “the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color,” according to an announcement. James helped to create an Anti-Recidivism Court in DeKalb for first-time, nonviolent offenders. “I don’t mind thinking outside of the box to keep kids from a life of incarceration in the ‘box,’” James said in the announcement.

Entertainment lawyer Joel Katz was the keynote speaker for Kennesaw State University’s summer commencement ceremony on July 29. Katz chairs Greenberg Traurig’s entertainment and media practice. The school named its Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program in his honor for his support.

Ashley LaRiccia has received a two-year fellowship from Equal Justice Works, a Washington nonprofit, to advocate for immigrant children in foster care who are unaccompanied and undocumented. Working at Lutheran Services of Georgia, La-Riccia will represent them during removal proceedings and in residency applications. There are 1,154 unaccompanied immigrant children in Georgia right now, according to a July 25 Georgia Public Broadcasting story.

Equal Justice Works announced 61 fellows nationally this year. LaRiccia’s fellowship is sponsored by DuPont and McGuireWoods. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.